Sunday, August 3, 2008

Youth building peace

Just outside the centre of Kigali, Didier Mpatha and a group of young people gather at the Maison des Jeunes (“young people’s house”), in the working class neighbourhood of Kimisagara.

Heza, which means “a good place,” is a two-year-old newspaper and radio project promoting peace and produced for young people, by young people aged 18 to 22. Every month, these young people produce and distribute a newspaper to young people around Rwanda. Each week, they also produce a radio show on Voice of America (104.3 FM).

“Young people are scared to express themselves,” says Mpatha, one of Heza's co-ordinators. He says an authoritarian culture in Rwanda makes it difficult for young people to be able to give their opinions.

Heza is trying to change this.

Readers have direct editorial influence on the newspaper’s content. Each month a team of Heza journalists fan out across the country to distribute their newspaper. When they meet with young people at their partner schools, they receive feedback on the previous issue and discuss which topics are of particular interest to young people at the time.

“We have roundtables and after looking over every article, we have feedback sessions and take questions,” says Mpatha.
When Heza journalists return to their office, they incorporate their audience’s feedback into the next issue. This month’s issue features articles on street children, young people promoting peace, as well as a fictional story about a young Hutu and a young Tutsi falling in love despite their ethnicities.

The common thread throughout the newspaper and radio show is promoting and building peace amongst youth and showing how it is done throughout Rwanda and by young Rwandans, says Mpatha.

Heza is funded by the Cooperation Allemende, a German development NGO. The cost per month of producing a weekly radio show and their monthly newspaper is approximately one million Rwandan francs (less than $1900 CAD per month). Their radio show is broadcast live on Sundays at 5:30 a.m. and is re-broadcast Sunday at 6:30 p.m., and at Saturday at 6 p.m on Voice of America (104.3 FM).


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. What is the age range of the people involved in this project?

Ryan said...

They are aged 18 to 22.

George Lessard, The MediaMentor said...

Your radio group might be interested in the Creative-Radio list that I moderate...

Creative-Radio is a worldwide text only e-mail forum and online archive for people active or interested in using radio creatively in international development, public health and related fields. Creative Radio tries to bridge the gap between journalism and humanitarian, post-conflict and development activities. The Creative Radio list uses this unique position to help develop strategies to make the best use of the mass media, at a time when radio's role is recognized widely as key in the fight against illiteracy, poverty and disease.

Subscribe via e-mail by sending a blank e-mail to this address..